Do women go unpunished when fabricating allegations of rape?

MKs to probe claims that false accusers are routinely let off.

aleph A pixellated (photo credit: Channel 10)
aleph A pixellated
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee decided Wednesday to establish a subcommittee to look into claims by men and family advocacy groups that the law against women making false claims of rape, sexual assault and violence against their ex-spouses is not being enforced by the police or state prosecutors. The heads of several men's rights groups told the committee Wednesday that a significant number of such complaints are later discovered to be false. However, despite the stipulations of the law that those who submit false police complaints be prosecuted, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison, in nearly all cases the woman is let off. "We contend that the police do nothing when it comes to light that women are lying in their accusations," said Gil Ronen, head of a group called Familists, which asked for Wednesday's meeting to follow up a similar one held last year. Ronen said the failure to prosecute these women was particularly common in divorce proceedings, where, he said "lawyers advise their female clients to do this in order to win [key elements] in divorce cases." "They want to make the other person seem as bad as possible or to get the husband to leave the property," said Ronen. "Most of the time these claims end in nothing, but the police take immediate action and the [husband's] record gets stained." "What can be done to make sure that a person thinks twice about making such a false complaint?" asked MK Haim Amsalem (Shas). "If there is a law on the books, why is it not being enforced?" Amsalem is to set up the subcommittee to examine the issue. Israel Police representative Dina Meron told the committee that the police take false claims lodged by both women and men very seriously. "This is not a discrimination issue," she said. "We take all false complaints very seriously and we try to follow up on them whenever it comes to light that the initial complaint was embellished or fabricated." She said that out of approximately 200,000 police files opened dealing with domestic violence each year, around 450 claims are found to be false a year later. And seven of that 450, said Meron, are taken to the stage of prosecution. Tal Kramer, director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers, told The Jerusalem Post that false rape accusations not only harmed the men involved but also genuine victims of rape and other violent crimes. "This is a battle of both men and women together," Kramer told the committee. Only 2% of rape claims were fakes, Kramer said. "Many of these men's groups claims of discrimination are baseless," Kramer told the Post following the meeting. "They are using the [former president Moshe] Katsav case to gain steam and their accusations come from a severe emotional and personal state." She said she hoped that discussing the issue in an official forum would not deter female victims of rape and sexual assault from coming forward in the future.